The Song Thrush: A Guide to Ireland’s Garden BirdsPetmania Pet Care Advisor
The Song Thrush is one of Ireland’s most widespread and popular birds. Known as ‘Smólach ceoil’ in Irish, it is smaller than it’s cousins the Mistle Thrush or the Blackbird, and is a familiar sight in Irish gardens. It is a resident species, and can be found all over Ireland throughout the year. During the winter months, the resident birds are joined by migratory birds from northern Europe.
In this blog post, we’ll guide you through how to spot a song thrush in your garden, how to feed it, and the best way to care for it.
What Does a Song Thrush Look Like?
The Song Thrush is about 20 to 23.5 centimetres in length and weighs 50 to 107 g. The sexes are similar in appearance, with plain brown upper-parts and buffish-white underside, and a prominent arrow-shaped black spots in lines down the breast and flanks. Their legs are pale pinkish-grey and they will often be seen hopping around your garden in search of worms. The juvenile looks like the adult, but has buff or orange streaks on the underside and wing coverts.
What Do Song Thrushes Eat?
Song Thrushes are somewhat omnivorous eating invertebrates including many insects like earthworms and snails, which are a particular favourite. They also enjoying eating berries and other fruit like apples.
Like its relative, the blackbird, the song thrush finds it prey by using its sight, and has a run-and-stop hunting technique on open ground.
The song thrush has a unique way of feeding on snails. It picks it up in its bill, then, with a flick of its head, repeatedly hits the shell against a hard object like a rock. When the shell smashes, the song thrush can feast upon the helpless animal within.
It will also rummage through leaf-litter seeking potential food items.
How to Feed Song Thrushes
Although a regular visitor to gardens, they can be tricky to lure to feeding stations and generally keep their distance from bird tables or ground trays. They will, however, feed directly from the ground, and any sunflower hearts and suet pellets spread may well be taken.
Over winter, cold frost can cause the ground to harden and insects like earthworms become difficult to find, as the soil can become almost impenetrable. To help, live or dried mealworms can be an ideal substitute for this food, providing adequate nutrition for the visiting Song Thrushes.
Where Do Song Thrushes Nest?
Song Thrushes breed all over Ireland, and can be found mainly in hedgerows and gardens. They also nest in trees, bushes, ivy, brambles and sometimes conifers.
The female constructs the nest, which takes around three weeks to complete. It is made of twigs, grass and moss, bound together and thickly lined with mud, dung and rotten wood, sometimes mixed with leaves.
The female lays four or five bright glossy blue eggs which are lightly spotted with black or purple. Song thrushes will produce two or three broods each season, and it is the female that incubates the eggs. Both parents feed the chicks.
What Do Song Thrushes Sound Like?
The song thrush is a remarkable singer, and boasts a loud, fluting, far-carrying voice. The song thrush has a short, sharp tsip call. Phrases include “cherry dew, cherry dew, cherry dew” and “knee-deep, knee-deep….” . When distressed, their call is an agitated loud rattle or a soft “seep”-like note.